Design and Characterization of p-i-n Devices for Betavoltaic Microbatteries on Gallium Nitride
Khan, Muhammad Raziuddin A.
Iliadis, Agis A.
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Betavoltaic microbatteries convert nuclear energy released as beta particles directly into electrical energy. These batteries are well suited for electrical applications such as micro-electro-mechanical systems (MEMS), implantable medical devices and sensors. Such devices are often located in hard to access places where long life, micro-size and lightweight are required. The working principle of a betavoltaic device is similar to a photovoltaic device; they differ only in that the electron hole pairs (EHPs) are generated in the device by electrons instead of photons. In this study, the performance of a betavoltaic device fabricated from gallium nitride (GaN) is investigated for beta particle energies equivalent to Tritium (3H) and Nickel-63 (N63) beta sources. GaN is an attractive choice for fabricating betavoltaic devices due to its wide band gap and radiation resistance. Another advantage GaN has is that it can be alloyed with aluminum (Al) to further increase the bandgap, resulting in a higher output power and increased efficiency. Betavoltaic devices were fabricated on p-i-n GaN structures grown by metalorganic chemical vapor deposition (MOCVD). The devices were characterized using current - voltage (IV) measurements without illumination (light or beta), using a laser driven light source, and under an electron beam. Dark IV measurements showed a turn on-voltage of ~ 3.4 V, specific-on-resistance of 15.1 m Ω-cm2, and a leakage current of 0.5 mA at – 10 V. A clear photo-response was observed when IV curves were measured for these devices under a light source at a wavelength of 310 nm (4.0 eV). These devices were tested under an electron beam in order to evaluate their behavior as betavoltaic microbatteries without using radioactive materials. Output power of 70 nW and 640 nW with overall efficiencies of 1.2% and 4.0% were determined at the average energy emission of 3H (5.6 keV) and 63N (17 keV) respectively.